The Kalamazoo Literacy Council’s (KLC) mission is to make Kalamazoo County a fully literate community because we believe everyone needs to read. That means helping 25,495 adults in our community with basic skills that many of us take for granted, such as reading to our children, filling out a job application or understanding medical information. When these adults come to us for help, we refer to them as learners. You can help by referring a learner for free services or requesting materials for your school, church, hospital, or organization.
All learners go through an assessment to determine their individual needs. These are done by trained volunteers and normally last about two hours. After the assessment, we will match the learner with the appropriate literacy services. Tutoring sessions take place in a public area such as a library, community room, or other public setting that is mutually agreed upon by the tutor and the student. We have a list of more than 30 sites where tutoring sessions can take place. These sessions may also take place in a Community Literacy Center (CLC).
ESL (English as second language)
As the largest ESL program in the region, we provide four levels of ESL instruction including language, speaking, listening, and basic literacy. Learn more about ESL of Southwest Michigan.
A trained volunteer provides one-on-one instruction once a week for 1-2 hours. The learner can study and move at his/her own pace.
Small Group Instruction and Classes
Group instruction is available in addition to classes in writing, computer skills, citizenship, and situational math.
ExpressWays 2 Success
This program provides reading, writing, and language arts instruction for adult learners who want to be more academically prepared for pre-GED studies, employment, or for future entrance into college. Learn more here.
Literacy Advocate Orientations
We offer 90-minute orientations for organizations and businesses to:
- Raise awareness about the state of adult illiteracy in Kalamazoo County.
- Provide information on how to identify and approach adults who may not know how to read or may read at a low level.
- Provide information on how to refer adults to free tutoring services that will improve their literacy skills.
- Provide information on how the #EveryoneNeedsToRead Adult Literacy Initiative is reaching the 25,000 struggling adult readers in Kalamazoo County and how to get involved in the effort.
Literacy Advocate Orientations may be scheduled by filling out the contact form or calling the administrative office at (269) 382-0490 ext. 222. The orientations may be customized to be included as professional development or to help organizations improve their “literacy transactions” and become more effective literacy advocates.
The KLC partners with organizations and businesses to ensure brochures, pamphlets, forms and other documents are more accessible to readers of all levels. This service entails a full review of the original document with suggestions that bring the reading level to as near 6th grade or below without changing document’s meaning. This service is provided on a sliding scale. Contact the administrative office at (269) 382-0490 ext. 222 for more details.
ReferRing A Student
How to approach a potential student
Referring a student to the KLC is simple. If you know someone who needs help with reading, writing or spelling, contact us.
The program staff will schedule an assessment for the prospective student to determine his or her reading level. After the assessment, the student will be matched with a trained tutor who will work one-on-one with the student to improve his/her literacy skills. Sessions will be held in a public place that is convenient for the student.
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be able to speak and understand English
- Have access to transportation – private or public
Recognizing and Approaching a Non-Reader
Many adult non-readers never reveal their circumstance, even to their immediate family, and hiding the truth becomes an additional burden. They avoid situations that require reading and have developed an arsenal of behaviors that conceal their inability to read.
The non-reader is difficult to identify. The following suggestions may help identify and support the non-reader.
Most non-readers will not tell you that they cannot read or write. Sometimes behaviors are affected by an angry tone to discourage further interaction with you. This is normal defensive behavior. Please remember that all of us want to avoid embarrassing situations.
Here are some common behaviors of non-readers:
- Gives excuses for not reading.
- “I forgot my glasses. Could you read this for me?”
- “I have bad arthritis in my hand. Could you write this for me?”
- “I can’t understand this form. Would you explain it to me?”
- “I don’t have time to do this right now. I’ll take it home and bring it back later.”
- Takes a long time or appears confused, angry, or agitated when given something to read or write.
- “Why do I have to fill this out? I have better things to do.”
- “I just gave this information. Why do I have to do it again?”
- Misses appointments or gets dates and times mixed up.
- May sign a form after pretending to read it. Don’t be fooled. Generally, non-readers can sign their name.
If you suspect that someone is having trouble reading, be very sensitive to the person’s self-esteem. With empathy and discretion, your specific approach will differ with each person.
Here are some suggestions:
- Quietly ask to speak with the person.
- Go to a private area.
- Using a gentle tone, tell the person that you have noticed difficulties in (specific area).
- Ask if that is correct and if the person can identify the problem. It may be that the person simply needs glasses.
- Whatever the problem, assure the person that you are there to help.
Tell the person about the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, that our services are free and confidential, and that adult tutors will work with them on a one-on-one basis in public places, such as the library.